Customized pet food and the increased convenience with which it can now be sourced, have pet owners (millennials especially) redefining the fare they’re serving their furry friends. Consumer desire for clean labels and ingredient transparency has opened the door for pet food brands, both new and established, to source and deliver local, organic ingredients to pet owners across the country. As of February 2019, as much as “44 percent of pet food and pet product NPD in North America featured the no additive/preservative claim,” according the Mintel.

While pet food personalization is a growing trend among a variety of age groups, millennials are leading the charge. Mintel reports that pet owners, aged 18-34, are mirroring their own food preferences when it comes to what they feed their pets, opting for natural and organic ingredients; 34 percent of millennials are opting for all-natural pet food, with 21 percent preferring organic. Furthermore, millennials are more likely to express interest in plant-based protein, or vegan pet food, compared to older owners. While the vegan/vegetarian pet food market remains a niche market, Mintel reports that the strong level of interest from pet owners suggests it has room to grow.

As the customized pet food movement goes mass market with a growing presence in stores and e-commerce, online customization is providing a new avenue and desire for pet owners to personalize meals. Millennials are emerging as the most prominent consumer base interested in home-delivered pet food. Mintel reports that 17 percent of millennial consumers are interested in seeing more freshly made pet meals delivered to their home, compared to 12 percent of pet owners aged 35-54.

When asked what’s most important in pet food selection, millennial respondents in Mintel’s qualitative research underscored the importance of health and wholesomeness. “I usually look for better quality dog foods having better quality ingredients, with nutrients in the foods that are more bio-available to my dog. I avoid artificial preservatives, colors, and sweeteners in my dog food as it causes many health problems.” – millennial respondent

So, what can we expect in the coming years? In the next two years, Mintel reports that sustainability around pet food packaging and recycling will become a growing trend alongside a growing interest in plant-based proteins. In the next five years, Mintel predicts “a new era of digitization,” where pet owners can seek out interactive solutions to connect and care for t heir pets.